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European Commission

Andris Piebalgs

European Commissioner for Development

"Energising" Africa for a sustainable development

Conference of Energy Ministers of Africa (CEMA) / Addis Ababa

16 November 2012


Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Africa is on the move. This message is both true and widely understood. Africa is growing faster than any other area of the world. It's becoming the planet's economic powerhouse and global driver for growth.

And we all recognise that at this point in time we have a historic opportunity before us.

It is a simple fact that the technological and economic changes that we have seen in the last decade, if we work together with determination and conviction, truly give us the chance to eradicate poverty across the whole world in our lifetimes.

I strongly believe that this should be our common underlying objective in the work that is now on going to formulate a framework for post-MDG world.

We all know that one of the greatest brakes on development is a lack of energy.

At one of the first meetings of the High-level Panel on Sustainable Energy for All, on which I have been proud to serve, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shared with us his emotional memories of growing up studying beneath the single light bulb in his house, and how this experience changed his life. I fully support Ban Ki-moon's push to bring sustainable energy to everyone on the planet.

It is a bold initiative founded on a simple fact: namely that energy is fundamental to development. No energy means no sustained or sustainable economic growth, no sustainable agriculture, no quality healthcare; no decent education. In short, no energy means no development.

And this is especially true for Africa, where technology and distance learning can provide a motor for development, all of which is totally dependent on reliable and affordable electricity.

Moreover, it is an initiative that the European Commission has supported consistently from its launch to the present day.

President Barroso announced just last year a hugely ambitious target for the EU to support this goal, "Energising Development", to help developing countries provide 500 million people with access to sustainable energy services by 2030.

The EU is uniquely well-placed to do this.

It is by far the world's largest provider of official development assistance; it boasts the most integrated and effective electricity and gas markets on the planet; and it leads the world in renewable and electricity technologies as well as in the efficient use of energy.

The willingness of donors to back the ambitions of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative with know-how, funding and innovative financial instruments is just half of the picture.

The other key to the success of this initiative is the creation of an investment-friendly environment in every country. This is essential to enable countries to leverage assistance to catalyse the billions of Euros in investment necessary to make this vision a reality.

Experience shows, from Asia to Africa, that where countries succeed in creating this investment positive environment, change can happen incredibly quickly, each investment catalysing more.

Many African countries have already opted into the initiative and committed to take the necessary reforms to ensure that their energy markets will attract investment; from governance, to regulation, to tax, to transparency.

The Commission and EU Member States are committed to standing behind these countries, with technical assistance, and then with innovative finance to drive forward investment.

Ongoing actions and future intentions

As I mentioned, the EU has set itself a very ambitious goal; helping developing countries deliver modern energy to 500 million citizens by 2030.

And we are taking concrete action to turn this into reality.

I have already dedicated hundreds people from my services to work on energy and on Sustainable Energy for All at headquarters and EU offices around the world.

Just one year after the launch of the initiative we have already mobilised over half a billion euro for Sustainable Energy for All.

We have committed an additional 400 million euro for energy-related actions in Sub Saharan African countries, available through innovative financing mechanisms such as blending mechanisms.

It is estimated that that this could leverage investments in energy infrastructure of between 4 and 8 billion euro.

An EU technical assistance facility of 65 million euro is under preparation.

And additionally, in order to provide financing for smaller scale projects typically at national level, a call for proposals under the ACP-EU Energy Facility for 75 million euro is under way.

These actions, lined up with the commitments we made in the framework of our joint Africa-EU Partnership on Energy, are just the start.

Over the longer term, as we implement our Agenda for Change, we are mapping out priorities for EU development assistance from 2014 onwards and can expect to dedicate another several hundred million euro to these amounts for sustainable and inclusive energy investments every year.

These amounts in turn will be highly leveraged resulting in investments on the ground worth billions of euro.

I am impressed by the high degree of interest expressed by African countries in engaging in fully fledged energy cooperation with the EU based on the principle of Sustainable Energy for All.

And I can confirm to those countries with whom we did not yet have the opportunity to discuss future energy cooperation that we will do it in the very near future.

Let me give you two examples of projects that we are supporting.

At regional level, we are preparing 60 million euro in support of the development of the main control centre for the West African Power Pool that will be located in Benin.

At national level, in Burkina Faso, – together with the EU Member States such as France – as well as the EIB, we are preparing 63 million euro for the construction of what is currently the largest photovoltaic power plant in sub-Saharan Africa. With 96 thousand solar panels, this plant will supply electricity to an equivalent of more than 400 thousand people.

These are but examples.

I strongly believe that activities at the national and regional levels can complement one another perfectly; this is particularly true for energy. The value of regional cooperation is clear to us in Europe, where energy is one of the most integrated sectors and shapes our day-to-day lives. And I give the highest priority to sub regional and regional cooperation in our relations with our African partners.

Very recently, for example, we have agreed to support Burundi, the DRC and Rwanda to elaborate a regional energy cooperation programme in the Great Lakes region.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Each and every one of us has a responsibility to make Sustainable Energy for All a success and to deliver on what we have promised.

The challenge for donors, governments, the private sector and civil society in industrialised and developing countries is enormous. The success of the first forum of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership held in Cape Town last May testified of the vivid interest of all stakeholders. It is a challenge worth taking up and seeing through to the end.

You can count on the European Union to play its part.

Europe has benefitted from 50 years' experience in developing, interconnecting and integrating its internal fragmented energy markets. And we are ready to share this experience with our African Partners.

The African Union and the African Union Commission have a strategic role to play in the gradual integration of the African energy market. We stand ready to assist you in developing your own unique vision and plan.

With sound policies and well-crafted projects in place, I believe that, together, we can bring real and lasting change to the lives of the millions of people throughout Africa.

Let's not waste this unique opportunity.

Thank you.

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